Common Assault Step 2

Criminal Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

  • If charged with a criminal offence it would result in a court order,  
  • The police will investigate criminal offences and then pass evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision.
  • The CPS will also prosecute (prepare and present) the case at court.

When deciding whether to charge a suspect CPS must consider

  1. an evidential and
  2. public interest test


Where a defendant has been charged with the offence they can either be released on bail to attend their first court hearing or be remanded in custody overnight at the police station and taken to court the next day, where he can apply to be released on bail.

  • When deciding whether or not to grant a defendant bail the court will consider a number of factors including:
  1. The seriousness of the offence,
  2. The defendant’s character; and
  3. The strength of the case against him.


Bail conditions are any requirements the court considers necessary to ensure that the defendant attends court and does not commit any further offences. These can include:

  • Order to stay at a certain address,
  • Not to contact the victim or witnesses directly or indirectly,
  • Comply with a curfew.

If a person is concerned about whether or not the defendant will be granted bail, or what the conditions of bail will be, they may discuss their concerns with the police officer or the Witness Care Unit contact.

Once these views have been passed onto the CPS they will take such concerns into consideration.

Court Proceedings

Common Assault proceedings will be heard at either:

  1. The Magistrates’ Court.
  2. Crown Court for trial or sentence or,


  • At the Magistrates Court the defendant will be asked at the first hearing if they plead guilty or not guilty.
  • At the Crown Court the defendant shall plead guilty or not guilty. A separate Crown Court date would be fixed for the hearing.

If the defendant pleads guilty he will receive a criminal conviction and be sentenced either on the same day, or in a few weeks if the case is adjourned (postponed) a for pre-sentence reports is prepared about him.

  • The victim will usually not need to attend court if the defendant pleads guilty. However, if the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date will be set.

Not Guilty Plea

Before Plea there are some key factors that the defendant will need to ask themselves

  1. Do you have any previous conviction? If so, are they against the person?
  2. What was the circumstances, was it a sustained attack or a lash out?
  3. What was the reason?
  4. Was it force proportionate?

Example: Punching someone because they called you names is not proportionate. Therefore, how did they provoke you and to what extent?

  1. What is your defence?
  2. Credible defence,
  3. What is the cost implication if defence is not credible?
    • Credit is rewarded if pleading guilty and earliest opportunity.
    • Prosecution will ask for costs alongside any other fine or punishment.
    • Bill could between £500-£600


  • Interview of the defendant
  • Witness statements
  • Forensic evidence; and
  • Physical evidence such as CCTV

Cross Examination

The defendant’s lawyer has to put forward what the defendant says (his ‘defence’) without being aggressive or intimidating. The judge or prosecutor could intervene to clarify.  

If you are worried about this, you can discuss this issue with your police officer or Witness Care Unit contact prior to giving evidence. This is organised by the court Witness Service.

After Evidence Has Been Given

  • The CPS will present any other evidence they have.
  • The defence then gets a chance to present their evidence.
  • The prosecutor and defence lawyer will then make a speech to the court and a decision will follow as to whether the defendant is found guilty or not guilty.

In the Crown Court this decision is made by a jury, who are guided on the law by a judge. In the Magistrates’ Court, the decision is made by a judge or a panel of magistrates.

  • If the defendant is found guilty he will receive a criminal conviction and will be sentenced – either straight away or after pre-sentence reports are prepared by a probation officer.
  • If the defendant is found not guilty then he will be free to leave the court and will not have a criminal conviction.
  • The defendant can only be convicted if the magistrates, judge or jury are sure that he is guilty of the offence.

Conviction and Sentence

  • What the defendant gets as his sentence depends on different factors including legal guidelines and what the presentence report recommends.
  • The victim’s statement (VPS) will also be read and taken into account by the court at sentence.

A VPS is a statement taken from you after you give a witness statement to the police, or at any stage in the proceedings up to sentence, and is your chance to indicate the impact the abuse has had on you and your daily life.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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